Sermon for Sunday August 1st, 2010
Five Truths About the Power of Sin by David Cook
Intro: It was only a little comma, but it cost the Lockheed corporation millions of dollars! An error was made in a contract with an international customer—a misplaced comma in a crucial number. The company insisted that the manufacturer honor the contract as written. Unfortunately for Lockheed, the error was made in an equation that adjusted the sales price, and it cost them $70 million. – Our Daily Bread; "People who say that small things don't bother them have never slept in a room with a mosquito." --Dennis Rainey;
God had given His people a miraculous victory at the mighty Jericho, but a much smaller city, Ai, brought tremendous defeat.
1. Sin Is Often Rooted In Your Overconfidence
A. It’s a good thing to be confident, if your confidence is found in the Lord. Israel had just experienced a miraculous victory at Jericho and thought a much smaller and weaker Ai would be no problem. Wrong!
B. Yesterday’s victory does not guarantee today’s victory. Ex. When I was at the height of my golf game, I was pretty good. Not great, but I could hold my own. In the City Championship I played a man by the name of Clayton Gibbons. One look at him and I thought – “I’ve got this guy easy.” He was very overweight, his clothes were out of date and wrinkled, his clubs and bag looked like they were from the 1940’s. After we reached the 13th hole, Clayton had won the match. I let his appearance fool me; deceived by outward appearances, too confident in myself.
C. After a major victory is won, look out that you remember the One who gave you the victory! 1 Corinthians 10:12, “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
D. Overconfidence in self causes you to think you are the source of victory, when God is! Ex. “I can watch check out this site, it’s not that bad.” Ex. “I don’t have to file my taxes with integrity, the government won’t miss anything.” Ex. “That person that showers me with so much attention at work, it’s all right. We are just friends after all. I’m too faithful to the Lord to ever let something like an extra-marital affair take me down.” I heard a pastor declare that the sin that is tearing down the church of Jesus Christ faster than any other is…ALCOHOL? No. HOMOSEXUALITY? No. ABORTION? No. He said, “It’s the sin of gossip.”
E. Remember, normally it’s not the big things that tear you down, but the small compromises that are outside of God’s will.
F. Look at Joshua and the Israelites. Before Jericho, Joshua had sought God’s plan and power through prayer. No mention of prayer here. Before they had waited on God’s Word to bring them victory. No word from the Lord here on how they could just walk in and defeat Ai. READ JOSHUA 7:3, “Don’t weary the people, for the people of Ai are few.”
G. You may look tall and mighty, but the small things want to take you down in a major way! Replace self confidence with God confidence. Begin to admit to God your need for Him first thing in the morning, not half-way through the day when the battle is raging! Shove aside thoughts that say, “You don’t need to study, prayer, seek godly counsel, etc.” Sometimes, Christians say, “The Devil can’t do anything to me.” 1 Peter 5:8
H. It’s not wrong to be confident in yourself as long as that confidence is rooted in God’s grace and mercy. The Apostle Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”
2. Sin Damages Those Close to You
A. Ex. Darren Evans, the UGA Athletic Director, lost his integrity, $550,000 salary, family, shed bad light on the UGA Athletic program recently (DUI, driving with a lady not married to). Ex. Football season is coming up. When one player on that offensive line messes up and goes offside, it makes the whole team go backward.
B. A MLB baseball player this week from the FL Marlins went to throw a pie on his teammates face after the game; player throwing pie wound up tearing up his knee; that’s not going to help his team out any.
C. What do you do when someone falls into sin? Do you begin to think, “Boy, they sure deserved that.” Or do you think, “Lord, strengthen me to resist sin. Without your help and power, I’ll fall, too.”
D. Another fact of the power of sin is that it damages those close to you. 36 lives lost at Ai! Hearts once courageous, now cowards because the Presence and power of the Lord was no longer with them. Ai means “ruins.” Sin ruins everything in life. Relationships, Homes, Churches, Countries, etc.
E. Your sin doesn’t only impact your life, but those around you as well. Several years ago Pastor Ted Haggard was removed from his pulpit because he was living a lie. Being a pastor does not mean you are so holy, you are beyond temptation. Sin weakens you…weakens the church.
F. Instead of moving forward strong in God, strong in His will, Word, etc., sin weakens and takes the heart out of you. Read Joshua 7:5
G. Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, made a long list of personalized consequences of immorality. A few items listed Randy shared: Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters; Having to one day look Jesus in the face at the judgment seat and give an account of why I did it. Suffering of innocent people around me who would get hit by my shrapnel (a la Achan). Untold hurt to Nanci, my best friend and loyal wife. Loss of Nanci’s respect and trust. Hurt to and loss of credibility with my beloved daughters, Karina and Angela; Disqualifying myself after having preached to others. Bringing great pleasure to Satan, the Enemy of God. Heaping judgment and endless problems on the person I would have committed adultery with.
3. Sin Causes You to Doubt God’s Goodness
A. God is always leading you in the very best direction, though you may not see it now in the physical realm.
B. Ex. Before attending NOBTS, I was not sure if that was where the Lord wanted me to go. I went to my room and begin searching Scripture. After a while the Lord led me to Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” That was God’s promise to me, “Go, I will be with you, teach you, instruct you.” It was really a matter of trust in the Lord. Had I not trusted God, would not have married Amy, had 3 tremendous children, been a part of this church, etc.
C. A hard lesson to learn is that of trusting God, especially when you are facing a major trial, test, temptation, etc. Ex. At a very weak point in my life, I backed out on God’s call, began to pursue “My will” over “His will.” That is why I thank God so much for faithful men of God who preach the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ! At Alpine Baptist Church, God used the preaching of David Flemming and Stephen Trammell to get me back on track!
D. Perhaps you’ve gotten away from seeking the Lord in private, passionate daily prayer. The enemy has gotten in and said, “You are nothing but a failure! You’ll never have that walk with Jesus like you once had. You’ll never be able to overcome that sin, go ahead and give in again. Your marriage will never be what it should be, so live it up.” The enemy is a liar, but God never lies!
E. When Ai defeated the Israelites, Joshua began to doubt the goodness of God. He tore his clothes, put dirt on his head, got before the Ark, had a coming to Jesus meeting! You can just hear Joshua praying, “God, are You trying to destroy us? God, we should never have come across the Jordan! God, the enemy is taking us down! God, we are going to be toasted! God, what in the world are you going to do about this?”
F. Prayer should be your first resort not last! Ex. Stephen Olford, “Pray when you feel like it, pray when you don’t feel like it. If you don’t feel like it, pray until you do!”
G. You can find victory over sin when you go to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-15). It’s there where you find mercy, help in time of need!
H. Begin to go back to that daily devotion with the Lord. Ex. “So let us plan with prayerful care to always allocate a certain portion of each day to be still and meditate. For when everything is quite and we’re lost in meditation, our souls are then preparing for a deeper dedication; That will make it wholly possible to quietly endure the violent world around us, for in God we are secure.” – Helen S. Rice
4. Sid Cannot Be Hidden from the Lord
A. You may be able to hide your secret sin from friends, family, fellowship for a while, but you cannot hide from Omnipotence!
B. Don’t wait until you are caught for sin to confess it to the Lord, but do it today! Ecclesiastes 12:14, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
C. Someone might say, “But why the punishment? Why so severe?” Achan had at least five opportunities to come forward and confess, but the only time he confessed was when he was caught red handed. Had Achan simply come forward and admitted his guilt, I believe he would have been pardoned. Yet, something kept him from doing this and it was probably the sin of covetousness in his heart. He had this feeling that it all belonged to him. And that’s one of the reasons today it’s hard to get 99% of people to tithe! They think it’s theirs, when it really belongs to the Lord. In Jericho, God said, Joshua 6:18-19, “And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” How would you feel if your children were caught stealing from your next door neighbor? How do you think God feels when His children rob what rightfully belongs to Him. Read Malachi 3:8-10. What is wrong with the church? We love our stuff more than we love our Savior. What’s one of the main problems in America? Love prosperity, possessions more than God.
D. Do you think stuff is going to satisfy your soul? Do you think buying the next I-Pod is going to fill the emptiness on the inside? Didn’t Jesus say in Luke 12:15, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Ex. Money Talks. A recent book entitled The Day America Told the Truth reported on a survey asking adults what they would be willing to do for ten million dollars. One out of four respondents said they would abandon their entire family, and almost that many (23%) said they would become prostitutes for a week for that kind of pay off. About 16% said they would be willing to leave their husband or wife and 3% would put their children up for adoption. —Discipleship Journal
E. One of the truths of sin’s power is that it cannot be hidden from the Lord. What would have happened if Achan could have caught a glimpse of what God was about to do just around the corner? What if he would have felt more confident in God’s provision. What about you? God won’t withhold anything good from those that walk uprightly.
F. Note the progression of Achan’s sin – He saw, coveted, took. Same thing that happened with Eve in the Garden – saw, covet, took. David with Batsheba – saw, covet, took. Believer, what are you looking at today? Does the Word of God hold your attention or the things of this world? The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:17
G. Never forget, God does not take sin lightly. It cost Jesus His life blood to save sinners like you and me! Ex. He paid a debt, He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. Now I sing, a brand new song, Amazing Grace, all day long. Christ Jesus paid a debt, that I could never pay!”
5. Sin Brings Defeat, But God Is Eager to Bring You Victory
A. Joshua 8:1-2, “Now the LORD said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. 2 And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it.”
B. You have known some defeats in your life, and the devil would love nothing for you more than to wallow in those defeats. He wants you to stay discouraged and defeated. God’s people had made a tragic mistake of underestimating the enemy and presuming upon God’s favor.
C. Once sin had been dealt with, God’s people were in position to hear God’s Word and obey. God said (Dave paraphrase), “You are going to have victory, where you once had defeat!”
D. Failure is not final for the child of God! Like the Apostle Paul, you might be knocked down, but you are not knocked out!
E. Alexander Whytle, “No matter what mistake we make, the worst mistake of all is not to try again, for the victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.”
F. Today is the first Sunday in August and 8 in the Bible stands for new beginnings. Refuse to let the failure of yesterday keep you from following Jesus as Lord today!
Action Points: 1. What Ai has defeated you recently? Lying, Gossip, Stewardship (not honoring the Lord with tithes and offerings), prayerless days and nights, pride and presumption? Confess it today and let God give you a new beginning of victory in Him. 2. You may feel too defeated to even accept Christ as Savior. He came for the broken, calling sinners to repentance and faith. He will accept you if you come to Him. He loves you so much He accepts you just as you are; He loves you too much to let you stay that way!